Tuesday, 31 January 2012

REGENERATION-X: X-Men Legacy


Of all the X-Men books pre-Schism, the one which most needed a good hard kick was X-Men Legacy. Originally planned to be a team book led by Rogue, the title eventually morphed into a series of D-List character studies. After fixing Danger, the book moved on to lengthy arcs about Blindfold, Anole, Indra and even-less well known characters. Which wasn’t too bad, until the ‘Rogue’ part of the premise started to strain. Mike Carey’s handle of the character made her increasingly distant, and her newfound control of her powers didn’t lead anywhere. She was also saddled with yet another relationship, this time with terrible character Magneto. For a character who has been repeatedly turned into “the girl” of a relationship, it proved to be yet another dull move. While she may have been interesting in a relationship in the cartoon or whatever, she’s never been in an interesting relationship within the comics themselves. NEVER.

So Christos Gage was inheriting a title which had several problems. In this, the first official issue of his run (he also wrote the point one issue preceding it), he has to deal with Rogue, her relationship, her position helping the students (which also never seemed to resolve) and her supporting cast of characters. At the same time, he has to write a book about students concurrent with Jason Aaron/Chris Bachalo doing essentially the exact same thing. He struggles to create a due purpose for Legacy.

But he doesn’t fail. There are several promising parts of this issue, most of them centring around the four/five teachers at the Jean Grey School where Rogue is now based. While Aaron’s ‘Wolverine & The X-Men’ is focused on the new set of students brought in, Gage seems to have inherited the old characters - giving him a slight advantage, as many of them are more popular and developed than, say, Kid Gladiator. But it also means he has to deal with characters like Anole, who are not so interesting or developed. His solution is to turn this into the channel 4 show ‘Teachers’ (just TRY and understand that reference, America!) and give us some soap opera dramatics.

Rogue is typically working through romantic issues, but by actually keeping her away from the men in her life we get to see this addressed in a slightly more interesting way. Rachel Grey has barely been developed in years, so it’s nice to see her play sounding-board to Rogue’s problems. Gambit and Frenzy also have an interesting dynamic - although so far it seems to have changed Frenzy’s character significantly, so she’s hardly the angry woman she’s famous for being - and Gage plays on that too. Cannonball, Husk, Iceman and Wolverine also pop in and out of the story, and it’ll be good if Gage can keep them as the forefront.

This is also a more traditional storytelling style than Aaron is employing. The basics of this issue is this: Exodus appears, wants to destroy the school and unite Wolverine’s side with Cyclops. He is attacked. He then decides that he wants to destroy Utopia and unite Cyclops’ side with Wolverine. This leads to a great final page, which delivers a fantastic joke. The issue is clean, simple fun, and leaves Gage free to develop character within the cast.

The art, by David Baldeon, is fun and free. He’s helped immensely by the brilliant colours of Sonia Oback, however, who remains one of Marvel’s best and boosts every single page. Together, the creative team create a fast, free-flowing issue which suggests a future run which will pick up the pieces of Mike Carey’s sluggish finale and take them somewhere more interesting. There are still some problems with the core premise and characters, but Gage seems determined to move past them and give us something fun.

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